I have the following line in the Dockerfile.

RUN apt-get install -y tzdata

When I run it, it asks for my input. After I provided my input, it hung there. Does anybody know how to solve this problem?

Step 25/25 : RUN apt-get install -y tzdata
 ---> Running in ee47a1beff84
Reading package lists...
Building dependency tree...
Reading state information...
The following NEW packages will be installed:
0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 189 kB of archives.
After this operation, 3104 kB of additional disk space will be used.
Get:1 http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu bionic-updates/main amd64 tzdata all 2018i-0ubuntu0.18.04 [189 kB]
debconf: unable to initialize frontend: Dialog
debconf: (TERM is not set, so the dialog frontend is not usable.)
debconf: falling back to frontend: Readline
debconf: unable to initialize frontend: Readline
debconf: (This frontend requires a controlling tty.)
debconf: falling back to frontend: Teletype
dpkg-preconfigure: unable to re-open stdin: 
Fetched 189 kB in 1s (219 kB/s)
Selecting previously unselected package tzdata.
(Reading database ... 25194 files and directories currently installed.)
Preparing to unpack .../tzdata_2018i-0ubuntu0.18.04_all.deb ...
Unpacking tzdata (2018i-0ubuntu0.18.04) ...
Setting up tzdata (2018i-0ubuntu0.18.04) ...
debconf: unable to initialize frontend: Dialog
debconf: (TERM is not set, so the dialog frontend is not usable.)
debconf: falling back to frontend: Readline
Configuring tzdata

Please select the geographic area in which you live. Subsequent configuration
questions will narrow this down by presenting a list of cities, representing
the time zones in which they are located.

  1. Africa      4. Australia  7. Atlantic  10. Pacific  13. Etc
  2. America     5. Arctic     8. Europe    11. SystemV
  3. Antarctica  6. Asia       9. Indian    12. US
Geographic area:

You need to execute serie of commands:

# set noninteractive installation
export DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive
#install tzdata package
apt-get install -y tzdata
# set your timezone
ln -fs /usr/share/zoneinfo/America/New_York /etc/localtime
dpkg-reconfigure --frontend noninteractive tzdata

(commands which start with # are comments and you can ignore them)

The best way is to create script, copy the script to container and execute it In Dockerfile:

ADD yourscript.sh /yourscript.sh
RUN /yourscript.sh
  • Good answer, but might I ask why this is necessary? Is this a Docker issue or an Ubuntu issue? – Jeremy Hajek Nov 19 '19 at 22:09
  • @JeremyHajek, this is the way docker (and containers) work. Some things need to be done on weird way. – Romeo Ninov Nov 20 '19 at 5:14

Set two environment variables in a docker-compose file. One disables the prompt, and the other sets the timezone.


version: '3.7'
    build: .
      - TZ=America/New_York
      - DEBIAN_FRONTEND=noninteractive

Then simply install tzdata in your image.


FROM ubuntu:18.04
RUN apt-get update && apt-get install -y tzdata
# Testing command: Print the date.  It will be in the timezone set from the compose file.
CMD date

To test:

docker-compose up

One line only:

RUN DEBIAN_FRONTEND="noninteractive" apt-get -y install tzdata

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